The January transfer window was a tough time for Arsenal fans as we saw a number of opportunities to strengthen the team fail miserably. Rumors of Diego Costa, Julian Draxler, Alvaro Morata and Miroslav Klose were all names linked with the Gunners throughout January, yet nothing seemed to pan out except for signing a player on loan who is injured for the next 6 weeks.
The thing Arsenal fans begged and pleaded for the most was for Wenger and the board to go out and purchase another striker to help take the load off of Olivier Giroud who has been consistently great at leading the line for Arsenal this season, yet an injury to the France international could be the last nail in the coffin for Arsenal’s title hopes.
While one may argue that we still have Nicklas Bendtner in case Giroud gets injured, anyone who truly believes the Dane is the replacement striker that we need to help Arsenal in their upcoming fixture run is simply delusional. He’s lacking match practice, his attitude isn’t great and he’s more likely to be on the front pages of the newspapers for his off the pitch shenanigans than being on the back pages for footballing heroics.
So what can the Gunners do? With only one trusted striker left, could it be time to turn to a 4-6-0 formation if Giroud gets injured? For example, look at Euro 2012 when Spain used Cesc Fabregas as a striker. I’ll admit that I didn’t quite understand why he was there at first. However the brilliance of the formation quickly shone through.
It’s a well-known fact that defenders like to keep things simple. They want to know who they’re marking and they want to follow them and keep them quiet throughout the game. However, with the 4-6-0 formation, it’s way more difficult to do that, as the ‘striker’ can constantly change. Does the defender follow the man who he’s been assigned to, leaving space for another midfielder to take up, or does he decide to stay put and let his man drift into spaces to collect the ball and make things happen. It’s a serious conundrum for defenders if they’re playing a good enough team, and with the creative players Arsenal have in their midfield, it could be the Plan B that’ll work.
Let’s list the names. Mesut Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Lukasz Podoloski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and now Kim Kallstrom. All players who have incredible creative flair, an eye for a goal and good positional awareness, the key qualities you need to pull off the formation correctly.
The big problem is that Arsenal need a big man up top these days. Not only is Giroud important for scoring goals, his link-up play is some of the best in the Premier League. His physical presence has allowed the likes of Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey and Ozil to get on the score sheet this season. He backs into defenders, tees up the ball for on-rushing midfielders then attempts to get into an advantageous space. His role as the perfect target man is becoming the strongest part of Arsenal’s game.
With a 4-6-0 formation, Arsenal will lose a lot of that physicality. Arsenal’s midfielders are technically gifted football players who can, if given the chance, use a burst of pace to get past their man, but they won’t be bullying anyone any time soon, making it a lot easier for defenders to predict what may happen.
With the risk of injury a constant cloud over Arsenal, Arsenal fans may soon see a line up with six midfielders, and it can either go just right or horribly wrong.
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